FAIR HAVEN DUCK FLAP GETS SLEDGERED

A conflict over a 12-year-old resident’s request to keep six pet ducks in her Fair Haven back yard has attracted the probing lens of Ledger Live.

And a critical essay by a columnist.

In a video posted Sunday, Star-Ledger video reporter Brian Donohue ducks his camera under branches and stands stock-still in a driveway in an attempt to verify complaints by South Woodland Drive neighbors that Nicole Stover’s ducks are too loud and their pen unsightly.

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RED BANK: BOATS, BONDS & BUREAUCRACY

boat-slipsThe newly rebuilt marina at Marine Park will no longer be reserved exclusively for Red Bank residents. (Click to enlarge)

Boat slips at Marine Park, a bond to cover pension costs and the red tape involved in opening a new business were among the topics tackled by Red Bank’s elected officials earlier this week.

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SEA BRIGHT ENDS AFFORDABLE HOUSING SUIT

gaitersThe council reached a settlement with the owner of Gaiter’s to rezone the property for affordable housing. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

A year of negotiations between local officials and a restaurant and marina owner, who hit the borough with a lawsuit for not meeting its affordable housing requirements, has resulted in the creation of a new affordable housing zone in Sea Bright, clearing the way for an anticipated plan for condos at the north end of town.

The settlement, memorialized by an ordinance creating a new housing district near the foot of the new Route 36 bridge, sent neighbors of the property into an offensive against the council, accusing the governing body of poor planning and buckling under the pressure of the suit.

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LOCATION AN ISSUE FOR COMMUNITY GARDEN

sharon-lee-031611Councilwoman Sharon Lee details her objections to a request to create a community garden at the Red Bank Public Library. (Click to enlarge)

A push for the creation of a community garden at the Red Bank Public Library ran into some mud Wednesday.

Big question: whether that’s the best place for it.

Smaller question: how much will it cost to install a dedicated water line, and who will pick up the tab in these cash-starved times?

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LINCROFT HOUSING PLAN RATTLES NEIGHBORS

avayaA proposal to build more than 300 townhomes at a former Avaya property in Lincroft has neighbors worried. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

A plan to build out a vacant property in Lincroft with more than 300 homes has neighbors concerned and “real nervous” about the impacts of such a large development in one of Middletown’s more tranquil areas.

Plans submitted by Four Ponds Associates call for 342 residential units — 274 of them townhomes and 68 apartments — on the 68-acre property most recently used as an office of business technology giant Avaya.

While the plans are under review by the township’s planning department, nearby residents full of questions and concerns are banding together in opposition to develop the sprawling tract on Middletown-Lincroft Road, which is now the site of a 352,000-square-foot office building, according to property records.

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BANK GOES TO PLAN B ON FORMER HOV HQ

old-khov1The former Hovnanian Enterprises headquarters in Middletown is in the midst of a complete makeover and almost ready for tenants. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Following a failed proposal to open a bank with a drive-through at the old Hovnanian Enterprises headquarters on Route 35 in Middletown, the building’s owner, Valley National Bank, has moved on to a new idea: completely overhauling the three-and-a-half story, box-like building and leasing it out.

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RIVERVIEW PLANS $15M SURGICAL MAKEOVER

red-bank-riverviewRiverview plans to add two surgical suites to handle a growing number of surgeries, officials say. (Click to enlarge)

Red Bank’s Riverview Medical Center is planning a $15 million upgrade to its surgical facilities in coming months to meet rising demand, hospital officials announced Monday.

Expected to start this spring and to take some 16 months to complete, the work calls for the creation of two new high-tech surgical suites, bringing the total number of operating rooms to 12, says Riverview president Tim Hogan.

To make room for the new facilities at the east end of the third floor of the Blaisdell Pavilion, an existing same-day-surgery center will be relocated to the west end and modernized.

“This is a sizeable project for us,” Hogan tells redbankgreen.

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COUNCILMAN WANTS TO AXE TREE ORDINANCE

bob-marcheseBy DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Is Fair Haven Councilman Bob Marchese barking up the wrong tree?

The second-year councilman, shown right, told his counterparts Monday night that he wants to see the borough’s tree ordinance repealed, and intends to take it to a vote in the near future.

The ordinance, designed to protect trees of a certain size from the saw, was at issue last year when the borough code enforcement officer refused to let a home builder cut down a dozen trees and the council overruled the decision.

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COMMUNITY GARDEN GETS IFFY SEEDING

rbpl-maple-coveA community garden is proposed next to Maple Cove, but officials say they need to do their homework before giving it an OK. (Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

With the long debate over the preservation of Maple Cove echoing in the room, the Red Bank council last night parried with activist Cindy Burnham Monday night over a proposed community garden at the riverside public library.

Once again, elected officials claimed to have been caught off-guard.

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HAMPTON INN EYES RED BANK EYESORE

hampton-innPlans for a Hampton Inn at the site of a former gas station on Route 35 in Red Bank call for a six-story, 76-room hotel at the foot of the Navesink River. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

A major name in the hotel industry is looking to develop on a long-vacant eyesore property on the Navesink in Red Bank.

A franchisee has filed plans to build a six-story, 76-room Hampton Inn at the southwestern foot of Cooper’s Bridge, on the 1.2-acre former home to an Exxon station.

In order to move forward, though, the developer has asked the borough council to first make a change to its zoning law.

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RED BANK: RUGBY TOO ROUGH FOR BASIE

scrum2Monmouth Rugby of Red Bank, in blue, and Monmouth Rugby of Wales, in stripes, in a scrum at Thompson Park in Lincroft in May, 2008. (Click to enlarge)

Its home, the Wilde Rover, is in town, on Shrewsbury Avenue, and it contributes nicely to the community, one Red Bank council member says of the Monmouth Football Rugby Club.

But sorry, ruggers, you can’t practice here, the governing body told the club last week. You just play too rough.

It’s not a call that’s sitting well with the 38-year-old club.

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BIKE & PED PLAN HITS THE STREETS

bike-route-networkA “bike route network” map in the report details suggested locations for bike lanes, shared lanes, bike parking and more. Below, the cover page of the report. (Click to enlarge)

saferoutes-report-cover

Attention Red Bank pedestrians and bicyclists: your wish list is in.

A much-anticipated report on ways to improve biking and walking safety, titled “Red Bank Bicycle/Pedestrian Planning Project,” has been delivered to borough officials and is now available here at redbankgreen (see below).

Based in part on suggestions from dozens of borough residents who attended input sessions and completed questionnaires,  it contains a cornucopia of recommendations, ranging from simple upgrades to signage and traffic signals to the creation of bike lanes and roundabouts.

The comprehensive report is “exactly what we wanted, and then some,” says Jenny Rossano, speaking on behalf of Safe Routes Red Bank, a grassroots organization that promotes walking buses and other alternatives to car use.

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APPEALS COURT OKS COLONY HOUSE DENIAL

Img_4589The decision concerns a 50-year-old apartment building on Bodman Place that the owner wanted to convert to condos. (Click to enlarge)

The state appeals court has upheld the Red Bank zoning board’s rejection of a condo conversion plan for the half-century-old Colony House apartment building.

The plan would have exacerbated a “severe lack of available parking,” the board said in its July 2008 resolution on the rejection.

In a decision dated February 10, the appeals court found that the board had acted reasonably in coming to that conclusion.

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MENNA: RED BANK NEEDS MORE NIGHT ACTION

wfront-2The mayor says entertainment ventures could help fill empty storefronts. Above, two long-time vacant spaces on West Front Street. (Click to enlarge)

Citing a surplus of vacant storefronts and not enough for visitors to do after-hours, Red Bank Mayor Pasquale Menna on Monday called for law changes to allow more nightlife attractions downtown.

Menna got the ball rolling on what he said would be a process to come up with zoning changes to allow such ventures as billiards parlors, small movie theaters, and places offering “digital entertainment” in the district.

“People say, ‘we love coming to Red Bank, but after we have dinner and drinks, we want to do more,'” he said.

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BASIE PLANS OUTDOOR TERRACE & BAR

basie-patio1A mapped aerial view of the area the Count Basie Theatre is proposing to build an outdoor patio. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

basie-patio21

Bumping up against an informal deadline in an informal agreement with “friends,” the Count Basie Theatre is ready to make a move on a vacant lot next door.

The theater has submitted plans to the planning and zoning office at Red Bank Borough Hall, on the opposite side of Monmouth Street, to build an outdoor patio area on some 29,000-square-feet of space between the theater and abutting Buona Sera.

Basie executives will present the plan to the planning board next week to seek approval for a number of variances to get the L-shaped space clear for construction.

If approved, the patio will add yet another amenity to an ever-growing list of improvements at the historic theater, Basie CEO Numa Saisselin tells redbankgreen.

“It would make the building a lot better to use if there was a bigger meeting area,” Saisselin said.

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RUMSON: NO DAWGS ALLOWED ON THE LAWN

dawgs

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

You can show school spirit all you want in Rumson. Just keep it off the lawn.

A request that had sailed through in Fair Haven didn’t make the cut in Rumson Tuesday night, when the borough council rejected a request from a couple of moms to sell lawn signs to raise money for the Rumson-Fair Haven boys lacrosse program.

The reasons, council members said: one, it’s against local ordinance, and two, if they lifted the ban, it could set a precedent for cluttered frontyards throughout town. And that, you know, is not how Rumson rolls.

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RED BANK TELLS BUILDER: KNOCK ‘EM DOWN

bank-stRed Bank officials slapped developers of the River’s Edge project on Bank Street with an unsafe structure violation, which is being appealed. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

When the developers of a waterside condominium project received approvals from the Red Bank zoning board back in August, the plan was to get started on construction within six to twelve months, they sai.

Now bumping up against the six-month mark, there’s been little action at the western end of Bank Street. And that’s going to have to change, says the borough.

Code enforcement has issued unsafe structure violations for the three vacant homes on the property, pushing the developers to make some sort of progress at the site.

“They’ve become a blight on the neighborhood,” said Administrator Stanley Sickels, who doubles as the borough’s construction official. “It’s time to take [them] down.”

The developer of River’s Edge has appealed the violations. The developer’s attorney, Kevin Coakley, told redbankgreen the move was to wait out any potential litigation against the developer.

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COURTYARDS PLAN GETS CLOSER ONCE-OVER

courtyards-2James Hulsizer with a depiction of the planned Courtyards at Monmouth. Below, an architect’s rendering from last summer. (Click to enlarge)

courtyards-at-monmouthRed Bank zoners held the first of what is expected to be a series of hearings on the details of a proposed 57-unit housing development on a neglected stretch of Monmouth Street Thursday night.

GS Realty, the unit of Amboy Bank that owns the site, is seeking a long list of variances, from building heights and setbacks from the street, in order to clear the way for the so-called Courtyards at Monmouth project.

Last July, byt a 5-2 vote, the zoning board granted a use variance for what members called “a very dense project” in a new train station zone formed to attract high-density housing and retailing, though the plan calls for no stores. At the time, those in favor cited a desire to jump-start construction on the 1.24-acre property, which is also bounded by West and Oakland streets.

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REPORT: HOV LOSS LARGER THAN EXPECTED

HovHovnanian’s headquarters on West Front Street.

Red Bank-based homebuilder Hovnanian Enterprises closed out its fiscal year October 31 on a larger-than-expected net loss, according to a news report.

The company’s fourth quarter produced an after-tax net loss of  $132.1 million, or $1.68 per common share, compared with a net loss of $250.8 million, or $3.21 per share, in the comparable 2009 quarter.

The New York Times, citing Thomson Reuters, said analysts had been expecting a loss of 66 cents a share.

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MIDDLETOWN ESTATE SPLIT GETS AN INTRO

hillendale-farm-31Arthur and Leslie Parent’s home at Hillandale Farm, as seen from Chapel Hill Road. (Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Objections to a plan to subdivide an historic estate in the Chapel Hill section of Middletown were not heard at Monday night’s zoning board meeting, but at least a couple of them were addressed.

The board limited each of its four scheduled hearings to an hour, thereby delaying any public outcry over Arthur and Leslie Parent’s plan to subdivide their 5.1-acre property on Chapel Hill Road. The time limit allowed only for an introduction and overview of plans for the parcel by a civil engineer.

The residents will get their chance, though, said Chairman James Hinckley.

“One thing that is guaranteed: the public will always have its right to be heard,” he said. “Sometime it takes more than one hearing.”

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M’TOWN ESTATE PLAN IRKS NEIGHBORS

hillendale-farm-2Arthur and Leslie Parent’s plan to subdivide a portion of the former Hillandale Farm has some neighbors alarmed. Below, a detail of the proposed plan. (Click to enlarge)

hillendale-farm-11

On the agenda for tonight’s zoning board meeting in Middletown: a plan to subdivide a 5.1-acre property in the upscale Chapel Hill area that has neighbors concerned about a change in character to the the cloistered area of large estates.

The applicants are Arthur and Leslie Parent, who bought the 5.1-acre property and its 12,000-square-foot house for $1.3 million last December, just days before they sold their Red Bank residence to cable funnyman Jon Stewart for $3 million, according to Monmouth County tax records.

The Parents want to cut the parcel into two unequal-sized lots, and have no immediate plans to build on the proposed new lot, according to documents on file.

But that hasn’t stilled concern among neighbors, who complain a township OK would leave an enormous house on one lot, set a precedent for the construction of another, and result in the loss of buffering trees between giant estates.

“It really would be a very significant change of character for the area,,” says John Moody, whose Independence Road property abuts the Parent’s.

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PLANNING BOARD INKS OK FOR TATTOO SHOP

turtle-sorrentinoGuiseppe “Turtle” Sorrentino plans on firing up his tattoo needle in Red Bank within the next three weeks. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Guiseppe “Turtle” Sorrentino has long wanted to own a tattoo parlor in Red Bank, but strict regulations put that plan on the shelf for the near 20 years he’s been working a needle.

The recent move of a business out of a small strip mall on Newman Springs Road — the only zone a tattoo shop is allowed in town — opened the door for Sorrentino to fulfill his goal.

With the approval of the planning board Monday night to change the use from business to tattooing at 168 Newman Springs Road, the ink will start flowing within the next three months, the Asbury Park native told redbankgreen.

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YMCA GETS OK FOR SHRUNKEN PLAN

harrisonCongregation Beth Shalom, led by Rabbi Dovid Harrison, won concessions from the Community YMCA. An architectural plan, below, shows the south face of the proposed remodeling (top) and east facade along Maple Avenue. (Click to enlarge.)

elevationsAfter months of contentious hearings that prompted a lawsuit against the Borough of Red Bank, the Community YMCA finally won approval to increase the size of its 40-year-old Maple Avenue health facility.

After a four-and-a-half hour hearing that was light on objections from the public, all seven members of the zoning board voted to approve the plan, which would increase the size of the facility by 56 percent, to 86,000 square feet.

It would also, for the first time, allow traffic to exit the facility directly onto busy Maple Avenue, which doubles as state Highway 35.

But not on the Sabbath.

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YMCA SCALES BACK EXPANSION PLAN

cymcaTalks between Community YMCA officials and Red Bank’s zoning board led the Y to shave 15,000 square feet off a proposed expansion at the Maple Avenue health facility. (Click to enlarge)

Almost 10 months after a protracted hearing process that led to a rejection and lawsuit, the Community YMCA will return to the Red Bank zoning board this week with a dramatically scaled-back proposal to expand its Maple Avenue health facility, redbankgreen has learned.

Andrea Plaza, the Y’s vice president for family health, said closed-door settlement negotiations with the board resulted in the nonprofit making significant changes to the scope and appearance of the proposed expansion.

The talks resulted in “a better plan,” Plaza said.

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